The executive director of the Iowa Turkey Federation will testify before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee this week about the threat of avian influenza.
Gretta Irwin, of Ames, says there’s a lot of misinformation and paranoia about the bird flu. With Thanksgiving next week, Irwin says people do -not- need to be concerned over catching the flu from eating turkey. Irwin says avian flu is a virus that’s killed by heating. As long as whole turkeys are fully cooked at 180-degrees, turkey breasts to 170-degrees and ground turkey to 165-degrees, there’s no concern over transmission of the virus.
She says the human cases have all been overseas and there have been -no- cases in the U.S. Irwin says Iowa’s turkey producers have been way ahead of the curve, staying vigilant for such a problem. For the last two-and-a-half years, Irwin says every turkey flock in Iowa has been tested for avian flu along with every chicken flock and every layer flock, as the industry monitors what is happening on the farm. She says Iowa has about one-hundred turkey farms that are producing about eight-million turkeys a year.
Irwin says “Our producers continue to look at their birds, be in the barns with the birds and if there’s any symptoms of them having avian influenza, they are testing the birds and being proactive.” She says farmers also limit the number of people who have access to their barns so the risk of transmission from bird-to-human-to-human is very minimal. Irwin is scheduled to testify before the Senate Ag Committee on Thursday, at the invitation of Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who sits on the panel.